Cpl. Paxton Sapp : “Deputies in Weekend Shooting Identified”

Marion County Sheriff’s Office officials have recently disclosed the identities of the deputies involved in a tragic shooting over the weekend that resulted in the deaths of a man and the agency’s K-9 dog. The deputies involved in the incident have been named as Cpl. Paxton Sapp, Sgt. Robert Rath, and K-9 handler Cpl. Justin Tortora. Rath and Sapp have dedicated 15 years to the agency, while Tortora has been a member of the sheriff’s office for 12 years.

According to sheriff’s officials, none of the deputies had previously been involved in any shooting incidents. Local defense attorney Jimmie Sparrow is representing one of the deputies. The K-9 who lost his life in the line of duty was named Leo. Leo, a 4-year-old K-9, was set to celebrate his 5th birthday on April 19. He was trained with community funds between September 2020 and February 2021, making him the first K-9 to be killed in the line of duty for the sheriff’s office.

The shooting took place in the 900 block of Northeast 144th Court in Silver Springs after deputies responded to a call about a battery by strangulation. The suspect, identified as 44-year-old Jeremy Bradsher, was found in his backyard by the deputies. Leo charged at Bradsher, who was armed and posed a threat to the deputies. In the ensuing confrontation, Bradsher shot Leo before deputies were able to retaliate, resulting in Bradsher also being shot and later succumbing to his injuries at a local hospital.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is currently conducting an investigation into the shooting incident. For any further information, you can reach out to Austin L. Miller at austin.miller@starbanner.com.

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